Jordan Ta’amu continues to rise up national ranks in ESPN Total QBR
OXFORD, Miss. — After the Rebels’ win over Louisiana-Monroe two weeks ago, we told you about Jordan Ta’amu’s performance in the victory and explained how his stellar play earned him the number one spot in ESPN’s Total QBR rankings for Week 6. What do the rankings mean? How did he get to number one in Week 6? Where is he now?
Let’s begin at the beginning
Imagine you are Jordan Ta’amu returning for your senior season as quarterback of one of the most explosive offenses in the country, and opening on national TV at NRG Stadium in Houston. Your Ole Miss football team is a slight underdog against a stout Big 12 team, the Texas Tech Red Raiders, a team touting not only its Air Raid offense, but a vastly improved defense as well.
You defeat Kliff Kingsbury’s team big, 47-27, and put up some pretty hellacious numbers in the process: 22 of 32 passing, 336 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Your team’s total offense is 546 yards in 60 plays—over 9 yards per snap.
Pretty impressive, right? Then you click on the ESPN QBR rankings the next Sunday morning, and where do you find yourself? You’ve barely inched into the Top 25. Hard to imagine that was Ta’amu’s position after such a great game. How is that possible?
What is Total QBR?
What is the difference between Total QBR, a complex data metric that dates back to 2004 and is known for having only the most elite quarterbacks grace its upper echelon, and NCAA Passer Efficiency? ESPN explains it this way:
“Unlike NCAA Passer Efficiency, which uses only box score statistics, Total QBR accounts for what a quarterback does on a play-by-play level, meaning it accounts for down, distance, field position, as well as the clock and score.
For example, a 5-yard gain on third-and-4 is a good play; whereas, a 5-yard gain on third-and-14 isn’t. A 20-yard touchdown pass when tied in the second quarter means more than a 20-yard touchdown pass when down 30 points late in the fourth quarter. QBR accounts for those things using analysis that turns traditional productivity into points on the scoreboard and wins in the standings.”
The Total QBR also accounts for a quarterback’s ability to scramble, his ability to run on designed rush plays, how well he avoids sacks, drawing and committing penalties, and all-important fumbles, which can be significant for quarterbacks.
After squaring off with the Red Raiders’ defense, Ta’amu would have to line his offense up against the likes of Alabama and LSU, two teams in the habit of putting an end to the high aspirations of their opponents.
Ta’amu begins his rise up the QBR rankings
After facing two of the nation’s best defenses in Alabama and LSU, Ta’amu rebounded and notched a statistical breakout in QBR in his sixth game of the season when the Rebels played Louisiana-Monroe. He hit on 21 of 24 passes for 374 yards, 3 touchdowns and had no interceptions. He also had 6 carries for 63 yards and 2 scores.
In that game against the Warhawks, Ta’amu’s total QBR score roared to 98.9 out of a possible 100, high enough to take first place in the country that week.
In the history of the rankings, only one other Ole Miss quarterback has ever attained the top spot for the week in Total QBR, Jeremiah Masoli in Week 4 of 2010.
Slowly but surely, Ta’amu has risen in the overall season rankings as well, finishing Week 7 in the No. 12 overall spot nationally and second in the SEC, only behind overall leader Tua Tagovailoa.
SEC Quarterbacks in the Total QBR rankings
Besides Alabama phenom Tua Tagovailoa, no SEC quarterback is higher than Jordan Ta’amu in the overall Total QBR rankings. Here’s where the league’s signal-callers stand in the ESPN rankings as we head into the Week 8 games:
|12||Jordan Ta'amu||Ole Miss|
|32||Kellen Mond||Texas A&M|
|55||Jake Bentley||South Carolina|
|77||Nick Fitzgerald||Mississippi St.|
As another point of reference, former Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly finished ninth overall in 2016 and fourth in 2015 in the QBR challenge, but he never finished first in the weekly rankings. Heisman winner and NFL No. 1 draft choice Baker Mayfield was the overall leader the past two years. Others who ranked No. 1 in recent years are Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and Russell Wilson – rare air, indeed.
As the Rebels rev up for their final five games, the first of which comes Saturday against Auburn at Vaught-Hemingway, rest assured there will be a lot of eyes on ESPN’s QBR, and we will keep you updated on Jordan’s progress as he continues moving forward—and upward.